Dear Jack: Exploring Your Great-Uncle Johnny’s Car Collection During Spring Break

7 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

It was just about a month ago that you had a pretty cool Spring Break. On the way back from Ruby Falls in the Mazda CX-5, we actually had to drive right past my Uncle Johnny’s house near Chattanooga; which is also near Rock City, where our family would visit a couple of days later. So I let him know in advance, and he was ready for us when we stopped by.

He has the largest collection of classic cars compared to anyone else I personally know. I figured especially at your age now, getting to see his car collection would really be an awesome thing to do.

You obviously were amazed with each car Uncle Johnny proceeded to show you; which included several class Mustangs.

But I think your favorite of them all was his 1993 Ford 150 pick-up truck.

But our visit didn’t just consist of a car museum collection alone.

Uncle Johnny was thoughtful enough, and brave enough, to insist that you drive us around in his golf utility vehicle. Granted, I sat next to you and overtook the wheel and brake pedal for much of the chaotic drive, which included us missing a tree by a few inches.

That’s why I took you to my Uncle Johnny’s house, though.

I knew it would create a memorable experience for you at this age. I have to believe that years from now, you’ll say to me, “Daddy, was that a dream that time we were at that guy’s house and he had all these cars and trucks and then he even let me drive this little car across a field, to another garage where there was this truck I got to stand in?”

Then I can say, “No, that was real.” Here are the pictures to prove it.

Love,

Daddy

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How to Make Your Family Car Last Longer: Guest Blog Post from Peter of Voice Boks

Having a car is like having another family member – it may not need as much care as a newborn, but it still requires lots of attention. And unless you want to change cars at the end of each year – most of us can’t even dream about it – you need to put in some time and effort into it. Luckily, you won’t have to spend a fortune on regular car maintenance, but if you come up with a viable and sustainable plan, your car will definitely last longer than it would otherwise. Only with proper care can you make the most of your family car, so here are a couple of ways to improve its lifespan significantly.

Clean it regularly

Car hygiene might not sound like the most important thing in the world and most people don’t even clean their cars as often as they should, but it’s definitely one of the things that will make it run longer. The reason for this is corrosion – a simple chemical process that occurs naturally in a car without us even noticing it.

Corrosion is the biggest threat to any car’s health, particularly when it comes to older models, and a continual exposure to water, dirt and snow will speed things up quite a lot. That’s why washing your car is crucial because it not only minimizes corrosion, but also lets you realize whether certain parts of the car are covered in rust. So, hit the nearest carwash or do it on your own – but don’t forget to include the kids, as well!

No more pedal to the metal

Driving a fast car is every man’s fantasy, but if you’re driving a family car, you probably have other priorities in mind. Going 100 miles an hour sounds like a lot of fun, but not when your kids are screaming in the back seat, scared to death. Therefore, put your racing days behind you and slow down when driving your family – it’s not only a safer, but a smarter way to drive.

Whether you’re stuck in traffic or driving on a highway, it’s your job to be somewhere as soon as possible, especially if you’re late for a parent-teacher conference or a football practice. However, if you’re always pushing your car too hard, you’re putting it under an immense amount of pressure and even the most resilient and trustworthy models, such as the amazing 2004 Honda Element, won’t enjoy this. So, take it easy, don’t rush and keep your kids’ and your car’s safety in mind.

Hot and cold

Proper temperature regulation isn’t at the top of everyone’s priority list when it comes to everyday driving, but it should be, particularly when you’re starting a longer drive or planning a road trip with your family. And since most road trips take place in the summer, driving somewhere with your kids without a working A/C makes absolutely no sense. But, there’s more to it than comfort.

There are two huge problems a faulty A/C can cause – an expensive repair that’s going to make your mechanic several hundreds of dollars richer, or, alternatively, a complete engine meltdown, which is an even worse scenario. People who don’t check and repair their cooling systems from time to time are more susceptible to breakdowns, so try to prevent these problems by avoiding potentially dangerous situations and maintaining your cooling system on a regular basis.

Regular checkup

Speaking of proper maintenance, don’t forget to have your car checked by a professional regularly. Even though you can do some of the simpler things on your own – checking the water level, replacing the oil, making sure there’s enough windshield washer fluid, inflating your tires, etc. – you should definitely find a great mechanic who’ll be in charge of your car’s maintenance. And if you manage to find one with some extra experience in family cars, even better!

Maintaining your car can have a couple of surprising benefits, too – you’ll feel safer knowing there’s nothing wrong, while your kids can be sure daddy’s always going to be there to drive them wherever they need to go. The only problem you may have is a lack of time – if you work all day long and try to spend some quality time with your family during the weekend, you won’t have enough time to take your car to a mechanic. That’s why more and more people contact a reliable mobile mechanic who can come to your home, do the checkup and fix whatever needs to be fixed right in your garage!

Other ideas

Some of the other ways to make sure your car is reaching its full potential include packing less weight in the trunk, parking it in the garage during the winter, driving more smoothly than usual and replacing tires as soon as you notice signs of wearing.

Peter is a parenting and lifestyle writer for Voice Boks magazine. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.

I am So Excited about the 2017 Toyota 4Runner I Get to Drive This Week!

“Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire!”

Those were the magic words I spoke, which caused my 2004 Honda Element to mysteriously morph into a 2017 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 Limited V6.

It’s like how Cinderella’s pumpkin turned into a wondrous carriage pulled by horses. Only way cooler.

So for the next nine days, until the clock strikes 11:30 AM on July 6th, I will get to be the proud driver of this undeniably tough (yet charming) machine of glory.

In the dozens of vehicles of featured on my blog over the years, my very favorite was the Toyota Tacoma. So obviously I have been looking forward for months now, knowing that a Toyota 4Runner was being delivered to me this week; as I find the two vehicles to be similar to each other.

This thing has the elegant look of a Storm Trooper, yet the unpredictable great power of Darth Vader.

Seriously, I am going to be so cool this week.

I’ve already had several co-workers stop me and tell me how jealous they are.

This 4Runner taps into a pocket of my psyche that I typically keep subdued on my blog.

After all, I’m the Family Friendly Daddy Blogger. Readers have certain demographic expectations of me:

Take lots of cute pictures of my kids while telling cute stories about them. Rinse and repeat.

And that’s what I will provide for my readers over the next week or so, as we enjoy some awesome upcoming adventures, being the Chip and Joanna Gaines kind of family that we truly are.

But this is me, breaking the 4th wall, to say, “I am a conservative husband and father living in the Suburbs… hear me roar!”

I suddenly feel so in control.

So powerful.

So… alive.

I am Being Featured on CreditDonkey’s Best Dad Blogs 2017: Top Parenting Experts

This morning I was informed that my blog, Family Friendly Daddy Blog, was chosen as one of the Top 40 “Best Dad Blogs”, by CreditDonkey. It gives me great confirmation to know that my work as a daddy blogger stands out in the crowd, as it was noted:

“Family Friendly Daddy Blog is a site featuring reviews of everything from cars to toys, along with plenty of musings on parenting and the vegan lifestyle.”

As I scrolled down the list of fellow daddy bloggers on the list, I immediately realized that I personally know some of these guys, actually:

Back when I was the daddy blogger for Parents.com, General Motors flew me up to Detroit in October 2011 to promote their Traverse, I met HighTechDad.

Larry Mihalko during the Chevrolet Traverse Quality event during the Chevrolet Centennial media event Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at the General Motors Milford Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for Chevrolet)

But I especially hit it off with 8BitDad, Zach Rosenberg, while I was there. I remember him telling me that his own dad is a character actor, in Los Angeles. This whole time, 8BitDad and I have been following each other on Twitter. I hope I get to hang out with him again in person someday.

And I met Gay NYC Dad in October 2014 when I was invited by Toyota for their “Family Reunion” at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Pompano Beach, Florida; featuring the updated Sienna, Camry, and Yaris. I remember he and I had a fun conversation about how he grew up on a kosher diet, being Jewish, whereas I started about my journey of veganism when I switched to kosher (no pork, shellfish, or other bottom feeder animals) back on Thanksgiving 2008.

The fact that I made it to this list reminds me that while I may not be the most popular daddy blogger out there, I am good enough at what I do to make the cut; to be considered one of the most relevant.

It also shows me I’m doing a decent job on SEO (search engine optimization); meaning I’m able to create and maintain contain that is easy for people to find when they search a relatable topic on Google.

I am very grateful for all of my readers and supporters- and I especially thank CreditDonkey today for choosing me as part of their Top 40 daddy bloggers.

Sponsored Post: 3 Tips for Getting the Best Deal when Buying a Car

DISCLOSURE LANGUAGE

Superior Honda, a new and used Honda dealership in Louisiana, partnered with bloggers such as me for this program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about any product mentioned in these posts. Superior Honda believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Superior Honda’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

car dealer selling new car to young family

Buying a car from anyone is a big deal. Especially when the car is used, there is a lot more research and negotiation when it comes to the deal. Often, if buying from an individual rather than a dealership, it’s a good idea to get your mechanic to take a look at the car. Below are a few of our best tips to get the best deal.

  1. Show Up Physically– auto dealers and salespeople are much more likely to give you leeway in a negotiation if you show up in person rather than start your inquiry by email or phone. While we do receive a lot of phone calls, it is mostly for basic questions. Once someone is actually interested in discussing the best car for them, they really need to come in, otherwise I think they may not be very serious about their purchase.

  1. Go to a Dealership– while used car lots have a large selection, they are not usually high quality. The highest quality used cars that you will find are going to be located at dealerships. At these locations, you can browse similar priced cars, even if they aren’t used, they may fit your need. Also, salespeople and dealership employees are more knowledgeable than basic used car lots, or buying from an individual.

  1. Don’t Negotiate- well, actually you are going to negotiate, but use your first visit to simple inspect and gain information. Then, go back to the dealership on the last day of the month and see what price they are willing to drop. Another great negotiation tactic is to show up on days with poor weather. These slow days make a potential customer exciting and a salesperson may be more lenient.

Overall, buying a used car is a great idea! They are usually in good condition, last a while, and often can come pre-certified. Talk to your local dealership soon to see what they have to offer!

Max is a marketing assistant for Superior Honda, a new and used Honda dealership in Louisiana.

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A WAY-FM Business Impact Partner)

This is NOT a sponsored post. This is simply a passionate testimonial based on our family’s experience. Neither Hyundai of Cool Springs nor WAY-FM were aware of this post until after the purchase of the vehicle.

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

Our family now has a “new to us” family vehicle and we are all 4 very excited about it! This past Memorial Day weekend, we traded in our 2006 Honda Accord for a 2013 Hyundai Elantra.

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

Everyday for a couple years now, I have been hearing commercials for Hyundai of Cool Springs on my favorite radio station, WAY-FM (both of which happen to be right around the corner from my office).

By default, my wife and I have been Honda people for as long as we’ve been married; nearly 8 years now. So while I was hearing about the Hyundai brand on a daily basis, I was already set on replacing my wife’s Honda Accord for a Honda Fit.

However, in addition to the radio ads I kept hearing on WAY-FM as part of the Business Impact Partnership, something else magical happened that lead to my conversion from Honda to Hyundai…

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

A couple of months ago while getting both of our Hondas maintenanced, I candidly asked my mechanic of several years now (at Firestone Complete Auto Care in Cool Springs) a question that only he could legitimately answer as a non-biased 3rd party expert on the subject:

“What is the best car company as far as dependability, maintenance, and value?”

This was his immediate answer:

“If you were asking me this question 3 years ago, I would have said Honda. But now, Hyundai has really stepped up their game. The next time I get a new car, I would like to get a Hyundai for myself. Plus, Hyundais are actually more affordable than Hondas these days.”

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

I value his opinion very highly, as he knows exactly which cars have the most (and least) trouble. That was a major turning point for me.

Not to mention, back in 2014 while our family was having our house built, there were 4 occasions where we got to review Hyundais for a week at a time, here on my blog. We drove the Hyundai Sonata, the Azera, and the Sante Fe twice; first in May, then again in December. (To read those posts, just click on the bold red title above the “flashback” pictures.)

Hyundai Santa Fe in May 2014

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

Hyundai Azera in May 2014

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

2015 Hyundai Sonata in December 2014

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe again in December 2014

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

Then last week, my wife told me she found a great deal on a 2013 Honda Sonata, after browsing the website for Hyundai of Cool Springs. So I drove there the next day to check it out. Within 30 minutes, I was offered a deal that I felt would be foolish to turn down.

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

However, by the time we test drove the Sonata as a family a few days later, my wife just wasn’t feeling it. When I turned around to the back seat and asked our 5 and a half year-old son Jack what he thought about the car, he apathetically shrugged off my question with, “I don’t know.”

I could see the Sonata just wasn’t the right ergonomic fit for our family, or for my wife in particular; this was important as the new vehicle would be her commuter car from Spring Hill to Nashville every day once she returns to work from maternity leave.

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

My wife then revealed to me she had also seen a 2013 Elantra on the website too. We mentioned this to our sales professional, Corey Carpenter, who was happy to show us the other vehicle. He assured our family he was there to help us choose the vehicle that was truly right for us. We never once sensed any bit of pressure from him, which gave us confidence throughout the experience.

You can imagine how this story ends. Before we even made it to the stop sign as we began our test drive of the Elantra, we all knew as a family that this was our car. When I asked our son Jack this time, he instantly responded, “I love this car!”

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

Based on the fact our month-old daughter Holly remained asleep during the ride and didn’t make a peep, I assume she approved as well.

Obviously, the Sonata that we originally came there for is a great vehicle, I think it’s just that perhaps the Elantra somehow caters more to my wife and me as Millennial parents (both born in 1981). We liked the smaller, faster-feeling, more concise feel of the Elantra.

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

My wife keeps saying how nice, classy and clean the Elantra is. She loves the seat warmers, the mocha interior, the rubber floor mats, and the tinted windows.

As for me, I especially love the wheels and the way the car handles.

I’m sure it’s no surprise that like any vegan/vegetarian family, the first place we drove our new car was straight to Whole Foods, from the Hyundai Cool Springs parking lot. Typical.

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

And that, is the story of the conversion of our family from Honda to Hyundai. Please keep in mind that neither Hyundai Cool Springs nor WAY-FM had any idea I was going to write this blog post. Again, this is not a sponsored post.

This was no random decision to buy a Hyundai; nor was it a random decision to replace my wife’s vehicle. We had been planning this new car decision for nearly a year, ever since last July when we found out we were going to have another baby.

So financially, we already had the money in the bank. We were just waiting on the right deal on the right vehicle.

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

The next move is replace my 2004 Honda Element, which I’ve owned for over a decade. We have our sights on a Hyundai Santa Fe; which is one of the company vehicles of WAY-FM. But first, we must build up enough in savings account like we did for the Elantra. Hopefully in about a year or so, we’ll be ready for that purchase.

I love the Hyundai Santa Fe because while it still feels like a smaller SUV, it has a 3rd row seat.

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

To think, it all began in 2011 when my wife started listening to WAY-FM on the way to work, telling me how funny The Wally Show was and that she really liked the music. From there, I began listening to it as well, soon making it the main station I listen to.

That set everything else in motion.

If you have any other questions about our family’s experience, just leave a comment. I’m pretty good at getting back to my readers in the comment section.

We Bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra from Hyundai of Cool Springs (A Business Impact Partner of WAY-FM) during Memorial Day Weekend

I’ve Now Owned My 2004 Honda Element for a Decade; Looking to Trade It In

I’ve Now Owned My 2004 Honda Element for a Decade; Looking to Trade It In Now

It was a decade ago, in January 2006, that I got my first real job out of college. And 10 years later, I’m still at the same place; which is unusual these days, especially for a Millennial like me.

Just a couple of weeks after I got hired, it just so worked out that I was able to get my dream car: a Honda Element.

It’s been a wonderful decade. I’ve had no mechanical issues with it. It’s been faithful.

My Element was the car that my wife and I took our first date in.

It’s the car that I’ve carried our son to and from day care/pre-school each day for the past 5 years.

I’ll always remember the first time I ever asked him a question and he legitimately answered me; it was as I was placing him in his car seat in my Honda element when picked him up from school one day.

I asked him what he did that day at school that day.

To my amazement, he answered me, “I played.”

My 2004 Honda Element has been a great car. I still love my car and I wish they still made Honda Elements.

However, we have another child on the way, due in April. The plan is to trade in my Element for a new car by the time she arrives.

By “new car,” I mean “slightly used” car. I personally fundamentally can’t see myself buying a brand new car when I can get a better value by letting someone else “drive off” the warranty; and therefore, much of the price for me, as I will be the 2nd owner.

I’m looking for a Honda Fit that has between 30,000 and (up to) 60,000 miles on it. That puts us in the budget range we are prepared for.

A week ago at Darrell Waltrip Honda, they evaluated my 2004 Element being worth $5000 as a trade-in. (It has 153,000 miles on it.)

I’ve Now Owned My 2004 Honda Element for a Decade; Looking to Trade It In

My wife and I are planning to trade it in for a “slightly used” Honda Fit. While Fits are smaller than Elements, Fits have 5 seat belts whereas Elements only have 4.

Plus, my car is mainly used just for commuting Monday through Friday; we always drive my wife’s Honda Accord on the weekends and on road trips.

Basically, I’m just looking for a newer, slightly smaller version of what I already have, but also with another passenger seat, as well as cruise control. The way I see it, a Honda Fit is what I’m looking for; a quirky commuter car that will hold its value, like my Element has.

My research has shown me that Honda Fits definitely hold their value.

Because my wife and I are faithful Dave Ramsey followers, we already have the cash in the bank to pay for our “new” car. It’s not that we make more money than the average household in Nashville, because we don’t; that’s not why we are able to pay cash.

It’s instead because we have live by a strict budget where every dollar has its place, so that we tell our money where to go… instead of our money telling us where to go.

We are not in a desperate situation where we have to hurry up and by a car. We obviously will not be making payments on it or paying interest. When the time is right and the perfect Honda Fit presents itself, we shall strike.

The money will be paid. The car will be purchased. Sale complete.

Our plan from there is to eventually trade in my wife’s 2006 Honda Accord for possibly a “slightly used” Honda CR-V.

I am happy about moving forward with a newer vehicle and I am happy for whoever ends up with my Honda Element next. Ole “Jedi” has been good to me.

As for now, a decade later, it’s a year of change and new beginnings.